How to Make Hugelkultur Raised Beds


James WhiteThe technique of making Hugelkultur raised beds has been in practice for probably thousands of years, though lately it’s becoming increasingly popular. Hugelkultur beds are created by putting compost or soil on top of rotting wood and using the small hill to plant.

Many fellow gardeners seemed to have an endless list of good things to say about these raised beds. So after hearing about the harvests other gardens were putting out, I decided it was time to test this method and see if it lived up to the hype.

hugelkulter bed | courtesy

Image by Rich Soil

Benefits of Hugelkultur Gardens

  • You can grow a typical garden without irrigation or fertilization.

  • No need to till once your garden is built.

  • This type of gardening works in a variety of environments, even the desert.

  • Improves the fertility of your soil.

  • Uses rotting wood that would otherwise be discarded, making it perfect for trees knocked down in storms.

  • Makes food more flavorful, especially fruit. Tomatoes and berries will be even more delicious.

  • Improves drainage.

Now that you know the benefits of this gardening system, let’s move into the labor part – actually building your raised beds. While it might seem like a hassle to put these gardens together, once they’re built they’re so low maintenance, it pays off in the long run.

3/5/2019 6:15:05 AM

yes, you can use pine but it will break down more quickly. It's also a bit acidic but some plants like that. I would mix some other woods with it as well. I used to burn wood/stumps/scraps every spring and fall, now they go towards my next hugel bed! I always have one that is uncovered through the summer so I can add downed branches or more logs to it, then cover it in the fall with leaves, then finally dirt. Having sides on it would definitely make less work!

3/4/2019 7:30:38 AM

I think I read about this type of gardening for the first time about 15 years MEN....go figure. I have a unique way of creating new raised beds based on this premise. I am getting older and want to have actual raised beds that I can sit on the edges to garden. I have my favorite tools that are perfect for rows 3 feet wide. I decided in 2008 to use some of the hundreds of concrete blocks I had inherited with this house to make my first raised bed. I use cardboard, paper, even carpet and old vinyl to kill the grass. I sat the blocks on the weed suppressant and let it come out about 8 inches and then covered that with mulch. Then when the bed was secured I realized how expensive it was going to be to fill it with dirt. I added another 2 rows of block and made the bed 3 blocks high. I start pulling brush and limbs from the brush pile of trees that the storms had gotten, or just some from trees we had felled for the wood. I had shavings from 4 rabbit cages when they were cleaned. I build up the bottom of the bed mostly with wood and straw and pine shavings filled with bunny poo. A couple of rains and it started to settle. I tossed in some more brush and grass clippings and cage waste all spring and then in June got 40 bags of top soil....and after the first 10 realized that it was forcing the brush to settle. I sat the soil off to one end and just continued with grass, and brush and cage waste all winter. I put brush down and some straw that I had used for straw bale gardening the year before and then put the 30 bags of soil I had left on the bed and went got 20 more with 8 2 cubic foot bags of MG garden soil and raked it out and planted my early spring crops. I was able to use some old pvc and wire with painters plastic to make low tunnels for across the bed rather easily. I used some left over metal corrugate from a barn roof to make another and we used the timbers from a house that didn't survive a fire for my third. I ended up with chickens and still have the rabbits and will be finishing my fourth this spring and starting yet another from concrete blocks. Anything we plant in them thrives. I do have to use the garden weasel to aerate the soil in the spring, but I don't till anything but the watermelon patch and the pumpkin patch. Me, MEN, and Miraclegro....a winning combination for over 25 years.

3/4/2019 4:48:51 AM

I just had 2 huge pine trees come down on my property. Is pine an OK wood to use ? It wasn't on either list

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